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Liechtenstein populist party gains ground in parliamentary elections

In the race for the Liechtenstein's 25-seat parliament, the conservative FBP and VU each garnered over 30 percent. Although the two ruling parties kept their majority, the populist Independents emerged the real winners.

The conservative party of Liechtenstein's Premier Adrian Hasler may have come out on top in the European microstate's parliamentary vote on Sunday, but exit polls showed it suffered a blow to its mandate.

Hasler's Progressive Citizens' Party (FBP) received 35.2 percent of the vote, losing nearly five percentage points. The party will now have nine seats in the 25-member legislature, down from 10 seats.

Support for FBP's conservative coalition partner, the Patriotic Union (VU) rose slightly to 33.7 percent, granting it an unchanged eight seats in parliament.

The populist Independents (DU), on the other hand, made significant gains in Sunday's vote, garnering 18.4 percent, up three points from the previous vote in 2013 when they first ran for parliament. They picked up the seat the FBP lost, giving them a total of five seats in parliament.

The Independents ran on a platform that criticized the government parties for dividing Liechtenstein among itself.

Liechtenstein's left-wing environmentalist Free List (FL) party made slight gains as well, reaching 12.6 percent and maintaining its three seats.

Voter turnout for the wealthy principality of less than 38,000 inhabitants was slightly down from the 2013 election at 77.8 percent.

Despite Sunday's outcome, Liechtenstein's royal family still holds ultimate authority. Prince Alois, the nation's regent, has the power to dismiss the government and can veto bills.

The royal family owns the LGT, the world's largest family-held private bank, which has assets totaling 143 billion Swiss francs ($144 billion; 133 billion euros).

The tiny country, wedged between Switzerland and Austria, was in the past known as a billionaires' tax haven.

rs/bw (dpa, Volksblatt)

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Europe's Microstates: (3) Liechtenstein

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